Digital Commerce Trends Impacting Product Experience in 2021
One of the biggest takeaways from 2020 has been the accelerated shift towards digital commerce channels due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. “Contactless” shopping has quickly become a key consumer request across sales channels and e-commerce continues to grow at a speedy rate despite global economic uncertainty.
The themes of this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) virtual “Retail’s Big Show” are meant to address the immediate needs facing retailers today, including ways to ensure resilience and move forward together, such as Honeywell speaking about consumer behavior shifts to online and how to deliver in 2021.
How can we apply in 2021 what we’ve learned from 2020 to help retailers and brands be prepared to changing market needs and consumer behavior? Change was the only constant in 2020 and we’ve realized like never before that predictions can change quickly. But with a global ecommerce growth rate of 16.5%, digital commerce sales trends are clear. And here are a couple of digital commerce trends that will further impact the product experience customers will have with brands and retailers in 2021:
- Augmented Reality to further enrich the digital commerce experience
Augmented Reality (AR) continues to allow ecommerce customers to preview products in a dimensional fashion before making a purchase. Retailers using AR or other new technologies (such as a 3D product experience) to allow customers to preview products or visualize them in their environment, find that customers are not only more likely to pick the right product the first time, but enjoy higher rates of engagement, new shoppers, and better conversion rates.
- Voice Commerce for even greater shopping convenience
Convenience and safety combined with a digital-first mindset will continue to dominate commerce in 2021. Voice commerce is just another way to make online product experience more convenient to consumers who are turning to their voice assistant devices more frequently to make purchases. 11% of traditionally conservative German consumers already use voice assistants at least one a week, according to PwC.
- Boom of social media commerce
60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram. Social commerce gives brands opportunities to create seamless e-commerce experiences directly within popular social channels. The entire product shopping experience—from product discovery and product research to the check-out process—takes place directly on a social media platform (such as Instagram, Facebook, What’s App, or Pinterest). In 2021, there will be many reasons (such as reaching consumers in the places that matter for them) for brands to consider deploying social commerce strategies to create seamless product experiences while taking advantage of another contactless digital commerce channel.
- Sustainability and transparency will be a critical factor
63% of consumers refuse to buy products and services from companies they do not trust, citing supply chain traceability as a key criterion (Accenture). In 2021, sustainability will continue to be another critical factor in meeting consumer expectations. Responsible, transparent, and also regional/local sourcing (along with sustainable practices) will also play a role for consumers as they select new vendors. Leading brands like Unilever and retailers like PVH are focusing their supply chain and marketing efforts around ecological and social sustainability and traceability, as they see this as an important driver for long-term success. Brands and retailers will need to gain consumer trust by providing trusted and relevant product, ingredient, and sourcing data to create a unique and seamless brand experience.
- Retailers and brands will depend more than ever on trusted and rich product content.
In 2021—perhaps more than ever before—brands and retailers will have to make sure that their customers have the detailed, trusted product information they require to inform their purchasing decisions, no matter how or where they want to receive it.
Feeding digital channels—including marketplaces, mobile apps, ecommerce websites, and more—with the right product content is a key enabler for successful digital commerce in 2021. The more detailed and comprehensive information that retailers are able to provide online, the more they will sell, the easier it will be for consumers to find the products they want to buy, and the less they will have to deal with product returns.
Online shoppers require much more detailed information than in-store shoppers, including high-quality images from different perspectives, zoom-in functionality, a video or AR capabilities, and relevant, trusted, and rich descriptions to make an informed purchase decision.
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